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Money Problems? … maybe it’s you

Money Problems Organization Minimalist Simple LivingImage: by graur razvan ionut

Do you seem to run into money problems every month?  What would happen to your finances if you lost your job today?

Always think you need to be making more money?  … maybe you do, but maybe it’s you.

More money is always nice, but maybe you have enough money to avoid money problems now.

Not to worry, simple living and minimalist thinking can help.

Tackling Money Problems

Before you get all defensive I can’t speak for your situation.  Everyone is different and there is probably no money method that would work for everyone.  So I’m not going to speak for your situation.  I can share with you our situation and hopefully help you ask some question or think outside the box a bit about your own.

Here is our story

We learned early on that debt was bad made it a point in our marriage to get out and stay out.  For the most part this worked for us, but our discovery of minimalism was what really helped me understand money and how to use it as a tool.   

For most people, living within their means is a huge victory and they see themselves without money problems.  Living paycheck to paycheck and not going into debt is a struggle but if they can manage, they feel they are getting somewhere.  We were here, we were saving some, and we thought that was probably good enough.

But there is more to money then that.

What about where you really want to spend money?    What about learning, growing, starting a business?  Is it possible to have extra money for that?  What about how you want to spend your time ( not working all the time to get more money)?

Having this extra money is really important

We started by writing out where we wanted to be with money and what we wanted to be able to do with our money.

Our money goals were:

  1. Have me be able to stay home with the kids
  2. Let my husband leave his main contracting business format and take lesser paying sub-contract work with less hours and less stress
  3. Ability to help charities we believe in
  4. Money for working on our passions
  5. Money for traveling with the kids

We wanted to spend less time working and direct more money at our interests.   Making more money is always something we look at, but we decided to try to live on less money for a while so we could work on our passions and hopefully make some money from them in the future.

So we decided to make a budget based on what we needed instead of a budget based on what we had for income.  The goal was to live as cheaply as possible while taking care of our family and to be able to put as much money into these other areas as possible.  To use a Dave Ramsey idea, we were going with ‘gazelle intensity‘ at creating extra money for our money goals.

Question every expense and ask yourself if it is worth putting off your money goals for or not.

We have kept up our plan and even gotten better at it in the past few years.  I wanted to share with you our current budget, not as a model, but as an example.  We don’t always stay in budget but we often come under as well.

Here is what we do:

  • Rent: $560 – we have a 1 bedroom apartment on the edge of town.  It is in a safe area… but is sure not anything fancy.
  • Food: $400 – we cook most of food and don’t use prepared dishes.  We don’t eat meat and don’t eat many dairy products.  We also don’t do brand name for most items.  We do make sure to spend on quality food and lots of fruit and vegetables.  This budget covers other things like cleaning products or other things that would be purchased from the same stores… I usually don’t split up receipts… to much work.
  • Car Gas: $100 – we have one family vehicle and it is a Prius which helps keep gas prices low (my husband has a work van for his construction).  We group our running around and shopping in the week to take less trips… lots of the reasoning behind this is because I need to do it with the kids… and shopping with kids is better done in one shot than lots of little trips.
  • Life Insurance: $36 – $48 We have life insurance policies on both my husband and I and another policy that comes out quarterly that would cover any of the 4 of us with a small sum to cover death expenses.
  • Utilities: about $100 gas and electric is so low for our apartment because it is small, east facing, and surrounded by heated halls or other apartments.  We are very happy it is so well insulated for heat and cool.
  • Entertainment: $75 – going out for date night or other eating out.
  • Miscellaneous: $200 – covers laundry money, clothing purchases, household purchases, post office, or anything else that comes up.
  • Escrow Pile: $500 – we budget yearly for car insurance, health insurance, medical and dental expenses, homeschool costs, and car maintenance registration.  To cover these expenses we pull $500 out each month and pay them as they come up from this sum.

Total: less than $2000 per month or $24,000 expenses for the year.

The things that make the biggest difference:

  • Small living space and house expense
  • No debt
  • Minimalist living and not purchasing extras

This does wonders for money stress, money problems, and helping us spend lots of our money on our money goals.

I know cost of living is different all over the country, but maybe you don’t have all the expenses we have either.  I live in Omaha, NE which does have a lower cost of living compared to the rest of the country.

If you are having money problems how about take a look at your money goals and then question every expense you have.  Are they worth putting off your goals or not?

Can you make a budget based on your needs instead of your income?

Some people really do struggle with money problems, but most people in this country are struggling based on their own habits and money choices.

I don’t like talking about money very often because it is such a touchy subject for people.  However, it is a limiting factor (or seen as one) for way to many people.  Everyone is different, but you also don’t have to live like everyone else.  Don’t let your position, your mama, your habits, or society tell you how you should spend your money.  Make your own decision 🙂 and say ‘no’ to money problems.


  1. Some wise and inspiring words. We have downsized to a smaller home meaning lower mortgage payments and cheaper bills (more energy efficient house). We have more time and less money but feel richer for it. This was a tough choice to make as we were initially reluctant to leave our larger family home. I’m so glad we made that choice though.

  2. That’s great! I am jealous of your low rent/utilities. The area I live in has a high cost of living (67% higher than national average) and it would be hard to find a 1 bedroom apartment under $1000.00/month. The trade off is that all of our family is within a 10 mile radius. What are you going to do?
    Just a question- do you pay for health insurance?

    • Kate,

      Yep, it is part of the yearly expenses that we divide up between all the months. We pay it 2 times a year. It isn’t very good insurance for small things, has a high deductible, but in case something terrible happens it will take care of us 🙂

  3. Kathy Kathy

    I am jealous of your cheap utilities! Our rent is about the same as yours, but we just moved outside of town where the water bill is much cheaper than it was but our electric bill doubled because this house isn’t as energy efficient. Our insurance bill is also much higher because we have more life insurance and our vehicles are bigger trucks. I am happy to see the rest of our expenses are about the same though. If it weren’t for our high business overhead, we would be doing great.

  4. Tricia Tricia

    I have finally gotten my husband to understand the exact things you mention here. It was been a challenge to get him to take off his rosé colored glass and see reality. We have made a good start and have a plan for going forward into the future of a simpler life and lifestyle! Thank you for your posts. I enjoy readying them!

  5. We choose a slightly different path with our simple living goals. We actually adopted simple living (not exactly minimalist) money management ideas to purchase a larger home. We were a family of five (plus three dogs) living in under 1000 sq ft, which was ok for us at the time, but we are hoping to adopt at least one more child in the not-to-distant future and knew that more room would make it much more comfortable for our family. We have eliminated most all of our debt (except our mortgage, obviously) so that we could afford a house that would be better suited for homeschooling our kids and hopefully bringing more children into the family. We have made a very conscious effort not to increase our possessions just because we have more space and we are actually better off financially than we were in our smaller home. Just an example of how simple living goals don’t always have to include smaller spaces.

  6. This is a great article. Maybe money issues are sensitive, but people need to be educated..that living a normal life, with payments and debt, is sacrificing their future.

    We finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired and are working with “gazelle intensity” to pay off our debt and have, in the process, realized how much we love simple living.

    A lot of the money problems that people have are truly just not being educated about money. I got my MBA when I was 23 and was always at the top of my class. I was really school smart, but not money smart. No one in school teaches you that.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Margaret @ Live Like No One Else

    • Lee Lee

      I agree with Margaret, you can be the smartest in your class and still not money smart. There is no full course on how not to have money problems, it’s only us who can make solutions for our money problems.

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